The Sky Is The Limit

Running has long been a popular way to get some fresh air, relax and take your mind of your daily stresses while also getting in some much needed exercise. But, it seems to have exploded over the past ten years. Ever-increasing numbers are registering for marathons, half marathons, 10k’s and fun runs across the globe, while the popularity of trail running is gathering momentum at the pace of Ryan Sandes (one of endurance trail running’s superstars).

Not happy to just run distances most people can’t drive in one sitting, endurance runners are taking things to the next level with Skyrunning.

Skyrunning is defined as high mountain running – sounds simple enough. Except that to qualify as an official event the trail needs to be at least 2000feet above sea level and have an average incline of 30degrees!

While it’s clearly not for everyone, one can only imagine that Skyrunners are getting off on some kind of natural high, high up in the sky!

Clearly altitude endurance is a long-term goal, so perhaps you should start with something a little easier on the lungs and a lot easier on the eye. Below is a list of some of the worlds most scenic trail runs to get you started.

Imogen Pass Run, USA

Set amongst the 14,000-foot peaks of the San Juan Mountains, the Imogene Pass Run is a rite of passage for Colorado trail runners. Beginning in Ouray, the race follows a 17-mile dirt road that connects the former mining outpost to the ski town of Telluride.

Mont Blanc, France

The trails surrounding the town of Chamonix in the shadow of Mont-Blanc, Europe’s highest Mountain, are the stuff of legend. Every year the Mont-Blanc Marathon starts in the town square before leading runners on a 26.2-mile loop through ancient hamlets and high-alpine meadows.

Table Mountain, South Africa

Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa is a runner’s paradise. With numerous trails offering scenic wonder for novices and experts alike, this is one mountain you won’t want to come down from.

Mount Fuji, Japan

One of the most beautiful places on Earth, Japan’s Mount Fuji is an epic place to run. Miles of trail run the circumference of the mountain making it the perfect place to stage the Mount Fuji UltraTrail race. The 168km course starts and ends at the Yagizaki Park in Fuji-Kawaguchi-ko Town in Yamanashi Prefecture, circulating around Mt.Fuji, cumulatively gaining about 9,500m of altitude.

Whistler Black Comb, Canada

With elevations ranging from 3,000 to 7000 feet (2000 metres) Whistler’s alpine trails can be challenging with lots of vertical gain and thin rarified mountain air. But, runners are more than compensated with epic glacier views, flowing creeks, wildlife sightings and expansive meadows of alpine flowers.

Free Hugs

Sometimes, all you need is a good hug to make everything better. There’s something about this simple unspoken act that can turn a mood around. Maybe it’s closeness or the physical expression of empathy. Either way knowing that someone is in your corner gives one enough positive energy to turn a situation around.

This simple insight is the inspiration behind the global phenomenon of the Free Hugs Movement. Started in 2004 by an Australian who uses the pseudonym, Juan Mann.

That year, after experiencing personal difficulties, Juan was forced to move back to his native Sydney. When he got there he realized how few people he knew when he was growing up were still there; Mann felt like a stranger in his own hometown.

Feeling isolated and lonely, Mann quickly fell into a depression. But, all that changed one evening in an instant. While attending a party, a complete stranger walked up to him and gave him a hug. Mann says of that moment, “I felt like a King. It was the greatest thing that ever happened.”

He first took his Free Hugs sign to the Pitt Street Mall in Sydney on the 30th of June, 2004. For fifteen minutes people walked passed him as if he wasn’t there. He got the occasional second look, but nobody was prepared to take him up on his offer. Finally, an old lady came up to him and gave him a hug.

Mann retells the moment the Free Hugs movement took flight; “The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one-year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.”

Shortly after that he befriended the lead singer of a local band who made a music video featuring Mann and his fellow huggers giving out hugs; to date the video has been viewed nearly 75million times! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4 

He quickly gained notoriety and was invited to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006.

So, when you’re feeling down, now you know there’s a simple way to turn it around; just ask someone for a hug. It’s true what they say, the best things in life really are free.

Get off the grid

These days, more and more people are turning their backs on the crazy nine to whenever of the modern world. This choice to live ‘off the grid’ is really about a return to simpler things; more experiences and less material concerns. A case in point is the story of Noelle Hancock.

In 2010 Noelle Hancock was living in the East Village on Manhattan Island, working as a journalist and earning a near six-figure salary. An outsider would be forgiven for thinking she was living the American Dream.

But, the pace of life in New York is frantic, competitive – even cutthroat. It’s easy to feel like you’re the proverbial hamster on the wheel. Hancock found that in this bustle she wasn’t finding time to see friends or family or even have a boyfriend; with over 4million people on the island, she still felt lonely.

She found herself repeatedly saying out loud; “I need a vacation.” But then she remembered reading somewhere that if you’re constantly thinking you need a vacation, maybe you really need a new life.

Of course, her friends and family (the people she hadn’t seen for months) thought she’d lost her mind; “You can’t just move to a place you’ve never even visited!” her mom protested.

But, she stayed resolute and six weeks later, stepped off the ferry in Cruz Bay, the main town on St. John. Within a few days she’d found a place to live and taken a job at the local ice cream parlor.

“But, but … you went to Yale,” her mother sputtered.”

Noelle understands the skepticism. But, its hard to argue with her logic either, especially when you consider that she lives in an apartment with a sea view on an island just North of the Caribbean Sea and gets to eat as much ice-cream as she wants!

It seems that being positive, happy and healthy is all you really need. Maybe Noelle Hancock has found the real answer to what a positive lifestyle can be.